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Search for missing boy with autism continues; FBI using recordings of parents' voices

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GASTONIA, N.C. (WLOS) — The FBI has joined a massive search for a missing 6-year-old boy with autism who vanished on a park trip with his father over the weekend in Gastonia.

Maddox Ritch, who is described as nonverbal, was last seen Saturday at Rankin Lake Park around 1:30 p.m. The Gaston Gazette reports the boy wandered off while walking around a lake with his family.

"They were walking around the lake," Rachel Bagley, a spokeswoman for the city of Gastonia, told Charlotte, North Carolina, ABC affiliate WSOC. "They got around to the back side of the lake. He started running, according to the parents, and when they started running after him, they lost sight of him, and no one has seen him ever since."

On Monday, it was announced the FBI was joining more than two dozen local and state law enforcement agencies in the search for Maddox.

National media report the FBI is using audio tapes of his parents' voices in the area, playing the recorded messages in the woods of the park, in hopes that their voices will persuade the boy to come out if he's there.

On Monday, authorities said they were checking dozens of dumpsters, visiting businesses near the park in hopes of finding helpful surveillance video, and researching the scene with police dogs.

At a news conference Monday, authorities said Maddox's mother and father have asked for privacy and their names have not been released.

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